THAT THOMPSON BOY!
Interrupting the current Spider-Man storyline, Stan Lee rips through the page to reminisce about the good old days back in the sixties. Although those days are long gone, he tells the reader that today is going to be like yesterday all over again as he wants to tell a tale about Peter Parker before he became Spider-Man. Once Upon a Time... At the breakfast table, Peter Parker's Uncle Ben is concerned that his nephew is spending too much time with his nose in a book on a beautiful Saturday morning. Even though the boy is enthusiastic about reading his books, he concedes to Uncle Ben's requests and agrees to go outside and play, at least for an hour. Watching the boy go, Aunt May can't help but see how depressed Peter is to be outside. Ben tells her that he is proud of the boy, but needs to get out sometimes and that it is not healthy to be in your head all the time. May kisses her husband since Peter being out has given them a chance to spend some time alone. Down the street, Peter decides to go down to Izzo's Bodega to check out the new comic books when he is shoved to the ground by a boy running by. Seeing this, Mister Izzo helps Peter find his glasses and get the boy on his feet. He is annoyed that the other boy shoved Peter out of the way without any concern for the Parker boy's safety. Izzo tells Peter that he was after the boy because he caught him trying to steal baseball cards from his shop. When Peter asks who the boy was, Izzo tells him that it was a kid named Eugene Thompson and that the other kids call him Flash. At that moment, Flash Thompson arrives at the local playground and is annoyed that the other children have started a baseball game without him. He then bullies his way up onto the batting mound and hits a home run. As he runs the field, Flash is disappointed when his sister comes calling. Demanding to know what Jessie wants, Flash learns that his mother is looking for his father and needs Eugene's help. The Thompson boy reminds his sister to call him Flash around other people and annoyed that he has to go find his father, tells her he hates her and runs off. When his brother is out of sight, Jessie Thompson's cheerful disposition dissolves to one of sorrow. Harrison Thompson has been drinking at Herbie's bar where he has been complaining about his wife. When the bartender suggests that Harrison head home and get ready for work, Harrison becomes angry and grabs the barkeep by the wrist and demands another beer. That's when Flash walks in, having searched all the bars in the area he has finally found his father. When Eugene tells him that his mother wants him to come home and get ready for work, Thompson the elder gets angry and backhands the boy. Realizing what he has done, Harrison helps his boy up, tearfully asking the boy to forgive him and that he won't hit Eugene again. Shrugging off the abuse, Flash helps his father up and agrees to help him walk home as the drunkard can't walk straight, and can't really remember how to get back to their home. A short time later, Peter Parker is heading back home with a stack of books that he had gotten from the library. Unfortunately for Parker, he crosses paths with Flash who is still helping his drunk father get home. Without a second thought, Flash swats Peter out of their path, sending the boy and all his books falling to the ground. Soon, back at the Thompson apartment, Rosie tries to get her husband to drink some coffee in an effort to sober up. By this point, Harrison has become depressed, telling his family that he feels like a loser and how he thinks they would be better off if he jumped out the window. Helping him get ready for his job as a police officer, the rest of the Thompson family reassures Harrison that he is a good man and that they love him. With his confidence boosted a bit from this love and attention, Harrison even agrees to go to the local church with his wife and talk to Father Marrin for help and guidance. However, once Harrison is gone the rest of his family give a collective sigh of relief that they got him to work without further incident. Rosie even thanks Eugene for his help, telling the boy that she doesn't know what she would do without him. When she suggests that they have lunch, Flash tells her he isn't interested and storms out of the house, refusing to tell his mother where he is going. That's when Rosie begins to realize that her son is not all that different from her husband. Back at the Parker household, Peter can't bring himself to enjoy reading, feeling like he should be putting in an effort to make friends with other children. However, he is shy and is afraid that he will say or do something to embarrass himself. His thoughts are interrupted by his Uncle Ben who tells Peter that he is happy that the boy spends the time to read and expand his mind. He even says Peter's father was also a great reader when he was still alive. However, he tells the boy that even Richard Parker knew that you needed to put the books away for a bit and encourages Peter to go back out and play. As Peter trudges outside, Ben really hopes he is doing the right thing, as Peter has always been quiet following the death of his parents, but he insists that the boy needs to experience the real world otherwise he is going to have nothing but trouble his entire life. At that same moment, Flash Thompson is fleeing from Mister Izzo's shop after getting caught stealing comic books. Izzo's threatens to call Eugene's father, but Flash is unphased by this threat. Spotting two kids sitting on the curb with soda and chips, Flash bullies them into handing the treats over. Later, at the baseball diamond, Flash continues to push people around. When one of the other boys tells him that they don't want to play baseball with him, Flash beats the kid up and sends him home crying. The other boys relent and allow Flash to play with them. As Thompson prepares to throw a pitch, his father passes by and tells Eugene to be good and that he will see him at dinner. That's when Peter Parker arrives at the playground and decides to at least sit and watch the game. When he sees Flash up at bat, Peter is impressed with Flash's skills and contemplates asking to join in on the game. However, he begins to lose his nerve and ends up walking back to the bleachers, thinking they wouldn't let him play. Later, an opportunity presents itself when the ball is hit toward the bleachers. To his own amazement, Peter manages to stand up and catch the ball, but it bounces out of his hand, however, Flash catches it before he hits the ground. Peter is once more impressed with Flash's superior athletic ability. Peter gets his hopes up when Flash leads him into believing that he wants Parker to play with them, however, he jokingly tells Peter that he would be good for the girl's team. As the other children laugh at Peter, the rejected young boy decides to go back home. That evening, Eugene returns home an hour late for dinner and his father is furious. Not only is Harrison angry that his son was late, but he also got a phone call from Mister Izzo about how the boy has been making his family look bad by stealing. With emotions flaring, Eugene makes the mistake of calling his father a drunk and is given an excessive beating. From outside, Jessie listens to his father beating her brother and begins to cry. Seeing her daughter, Rosie ushers Jessie away, assuring the little girl that her father knows what he is doing. Later that evening, Jessie goes to check on her brother and bring him some food. This is followed by Harrison who has come to apologize to his son for what he had done and he assures his children that he still loves him. While Jessie believes this emphatically, Eugene is reluctant to accept his father's words. While at the Parker home, Peter Parker thinks about how all the kids in the schoolyard like Flash and, unaware of how miserable Flash Thompson's life really is, wishes he could trade places with the other boy. When his Uncle Ben and Aunt May check on him, Peter tells them what happened and blames himself. However, Uncle Ben is the one who thinks apologies are in order, as his insistence that Peter go outside suggested that he was somehow incomplete. To make up for things, Ben offers to take Peter out to see the new science fiction movie they have both been looking forward to. After the show, Peter and Uncle Ben are on their way home discussing the movie when they decide to make a stop for ice cream. They happen to pass by the apartment building where the Thompson family lives and their passage is seen by Flash from his bedroom window. Seeing a father-and-son out having fun together makes Flash very sad as he wishes he had that sort of relationship with his own father and hopes that the kid down on the street knows how lucky he really is.